Why should peaches and cream have all the fun? Each summer, when stone fruit season rolls around, I try not to play favorites—but sometimes I can’t help it. Something about a perfectly ripe apricot just perfectly encapsulates the sun-warmed feeling of hot days and barely breezy nights. They are the summer sun, melting down just past the farthest part of the horizon, in perfect fruit from. And when I’ve had my fill of them straight out of my farmers’ market tote, I turn to my kitchen for other ways of indulging in the apricot.
This year, a handful of hot days resulted in this recipe. It’s composed of a happy, melty mess of classic vanilla custard and fresh-made apricot compote spiked with a pinch of tarragon. A drizzle of white chocolate help the final dusting of almonds stick to this gourmet twist on a classic summertime treat.
For the custard:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the compote:
- 1 lbs apricots
- 1/2 tsp tarragon
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp water
- White melting chocolate, good quality
- slivered almonds
Start by making a classic custard base. I love Martha’s Stewart’s recipe. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla seeds in a saucepan. Add the empty pod to make sure you capture all those tiny seeds. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture simmers. Remove from heat.
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together, then slowly stir in half of the warm milk mixture. This is called tempering the egg yolks—you’re warming them slowly so they don’t scramble. After half the milk has been whisked with the yolks, pour the whole thing back into the pan and whisk to combine.
Cook over medium heat, stirring well so the mixture doesn’t clump and the bottom doesn’t burn, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 6 to 8 minutes). Refrigerate while you make the compote.
Clean, slice and pit your apricots. Add them to a saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the apricot has broken into small pieces and the sugar has dissolved. Add more water a tablespoon at a time if the mixture seems too thick.
Pour the compote into a bowl and stir in finely chopped tarragon. Refrigerate until cool.
Break out your popsicle mold (because everyone has one of those, right?) and pour in a centimeter or two of compote. Top with a layer of custard, alternating in semi-thin layers until the molds are full. Insert sticks and freeze until completely solid.
To demold the popsicles, run the tips under hot water for a few seconds and gently wriggle them out. Place on a chilled baking sheet and work quickly!
Melt good quality white chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each until fully melted. Quickly drizzle over a popsicle, then sprinkle with slivered almonds. Work in this way, chocolate then almonds, until you’ve finished them all—this ensures the chocolate is still melted enough for the almonds to stick to.
Place back in the freezer until ready to serve.